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Youth Offences and Criminal Records

By Pegah Memarpour, freelance columnist for Pardon Applications of Canada

The transition from adolescence to adulthood is marked with many distinct and fundamental changes and differences. Youth are generally seen as relatively innocent, and not fully developed and aware of their actions.

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Even under the law, youth are described as having minimal culpability for their decisions and resulting consequences of their choices. In turn, Canada, alongside many other nations, have developed a separate legislative body responsible for youth who commit crimes.

The Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA), amended in 2002, is the governing body accountable for punishing and rehabilitating those between the ages of 12-17. Once a young person has their 18th birthday, they are from then on considered an adult under Canadian Law.

Overall, the YCJA is distinguished from the criminal code as it is generally more focused on rehabilitation rather than punishment; as youth are deemed not entirely mentally or emotionally aware of their actions or its consequences.

Similar to adults, those who are convicted of a crime under the YCJA will from which point have a youth record. Similar to adult records, youth records can impact travel, recreation, sports, work, and education.

Unlike adult records, as many individuals are made aware, criminal convictions committed before the age of 18 will be, in most cases, destroyed upon ones 18th birthday. Therefore, employers, Border Services, or education institutions will not have access to an adults youth record.

However, the common misconception is that ALL youth records and ANY crimes committed as a youth will simply disappear at the age of 18. When in fact, there are a variety of situations where young adult charges will appear on an adult record.

Youth records generally stay open for a period of three to five years after the offender has completed his or her sentence. This access period varies based on the young offender’s record, the seriousness and severity of the offence, the sentence, and the individual’s subsequent behaviour. However, if the individual commits any other crimes as an adult while the youth record is still accessible or before their sentence is completed, their youth record will be converted to an adult record.

This means that specific youth charges become available on their CPIC, along with any additional adult charges. These charges will remain there for the rest of their lives or until a record suspension is applied for and approved. Therefore, if this occurs, potential employers, volunteer organizations or Border Agencies will have the ability to access youth charges.

Furthermore, if a youth is convicted of an adult offence for a very serious crime their record is treated as an adult record and not a youth record, regardless of their age. Meaning that their record will not be destroyed on their 18th birthday, and can only be removed after applying for a Record Suspension

It is important for both youth, families, and individuals with youth charges on their adult records to be aware of these factors when traveling or applying for jobs. If a person is unaware of the fact that they have youth charges on their adult record, they may risk or hinder employment, volunteer or education opportunities, as well as potential travel plans. Being fully aware knowledgeable of all offences on one’s record, and Record Suspension and Waiver options is essential for ensuring that individuals are not met with any barriers or hindrances.

Resources

http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/y-1.5/

http://www.lawlessons.ca/lesson-plans/2.7.youth-and-adult-records

http://www.justicebc.ca/en/cjis/youth/records/index.html

http://www.ycja.ca/?q=youth/youth-and-adult-records/did-you-know

Pegah Memarpour is a freelance columnist for Pardon Applications of Canada, the nationwide processing firm for Canadian Pardon (Record Suspension) & U.S. Entry Waiver applications. The opinions expressed are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Pardon Applications of Canada. For a list of statistical references used in this article, or more information on Pardon Applications of Canada, call 866-383-9744 or email: info@pardonapplications.ca